Friday, January 2, 2009

Oats an All Around Winner that Tastes Good

Hopefully you have oats in your pantry or cupboard. And hopefully after this blog you will take them out of your cupboard and begin using them on a regular basis.

Adding oats to your diet is fairly easy tastes great and can be very inexpensive. Of course oats have recently been in all kinds of headlines, with all kinds of health claims being attributed to them. Some of which may or may not be true. But for this blog, you know oats are good for you and I know they taste good. So with that combination we can’t lose.

Oats really are an easy grain to incorporate into your diet and they are so affordable. For example, even buying the name brand, standard sized container of oats, not on sale – if the price of the oats work out to about $1.36 per pound dry, and a pound of oatmeal will make 12 servings that equates to about .11 cents per serving. You can cut that price almost in half if you buy house brand oats, and in half again if you buy in bulk. (Bulk can mean that you find an affordable twenty-five pound bag and share it with one or more people in order to take advantage of wonderful prices.)

If you are trying to be frugal and watch your pennies, oats are the way to go. They can be used in just about any kind of recipe, from breakfast to main course to dessert. Try them today. Here are just a few ideas.

First, you need to have some oats on hand since oats are one of the most mild of the grains. When someone is ill and you need a bland diet forget the wheat and get out the oats.

Some people think they don’t like oatmeal for breakfast because it is too mushy. If you’re one of them, try toasting your oatmeal before you cook it. Stir a cup or two of dry oatmeal in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until it begins to brown. Then make cooked oatmeal as usual with it. The toasted grains of oats don’t stick together as much as un-toasted grains do, so the texture is not as mushy.

Or add about ¼ cup of dehydrated apple nuggets or raisins and/or a little cinnamon and nutmeg, and then some brown sugar and butter. “Slurp,” it’s called dessert for breakfast or lunch or snack or dinner or midnight snack. You can put nuts on top to make it even better :)

For a change, try this sweeter, very healthy, version of breakfast oatmeal.

Butterscotch Oatmeal
2 beaten eggs
3 ½ cups of milk
1 cup brown sugar
½ tsp salt
2 cups quick cooking rolled oats (toasted or un-toasted)
¼ cup butter or margarine
In a large saucepan combine the eggs, milk, brown sugar and salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes.) Stir in oats and cook just until mixture begins to bubble, (about 3 minutes.) Remove from heat, add butter, cover and let stand for a few minutes. Stir to blend butter. Serve with additional milk. Serves 4.

Left over oatmeal can be poured into a loaf pan, allowed to set up and then the next day or next meal fried or browned, as you would cornmeal or pancakes. I brown it until it gets crispy around the edges. For a delightful taste twist top it with butter and syrup or jam.

Instant Vs. Regular. Instant oatmeal is just regular oatmeal that been broken up so that it will cook faster. If you find a sale on regular oatmeal buy it. Go home and make your own instant version. Just put regular oatmeal in the blender and pulse it a few times to break it up. Not too much - you will see why in the next paragraph.

You can also make oat flour by grinding regular oatmeal in the blender. Just pulse it until it is very fine. Oat flour can be substituted for part of the regular flour in almost any recipe. Oat flour has all of the health benefits of regular oatmeal. It is an ideal ingredient in low-fat, low-sugar treats. It is naturally slightly sweet. Oat flour tends to be moist.

Oats, quick oats, oat bran, etc can be added to bread dough, muffins, cookies, meatloaf, pancakes, and on and on. I cannot make meatloaf without using oatmeal. Oats can be added even if the recipe has not called for oats and it increases the food value of the end product. Add at least ¼ - ½ cup oats to your regular chocolate chip cookie recipe, reducing the regular amount of flour by the amount of oats. Of course you can add coconut also. And then of course you must make a quadruple batch so that you can eat at least one batch as dough!

This week your challenge is to try at least two recipes with oats. Get the oats out of the cupboard and into your system. That way your preparedness is productive and healthy too. (Especially those cookies.)

Check out the Bare Bones Basics chapter of Preparedness Principles for more ideas on how to use those grains that may be sitting on your cupboard shelves.

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